Bird Cage House

LOCATION: 721 Pinellas Point Dr S, St. Petersburg, FL 33705

ARCHITECT:  Glenn Q. Johnson

BUILT: 1954

SIZE: 1,460 SF




Designed for the Florida climate before air conditioning was common, the Vision-aire houses, as they were originally called, were designed “by Florida itself”.  A dozen houses were built along 69th Avenue South and on Pinellas Point Drive.  All of the houses were designed with living areas that faced the southeast with jalousie windows, to welcome the prevailing breeze from Tampa Bay and cool occupants.  Their wide overhangs shielded the home from the sun and rain and floor-to-ceiling screens to allowed outdoor living free of insects.  All of the houses were a split-level style with the main living areas high enough above ground that the air would be 10 to 12 degrees cooler.  According to the architect, withstanding the heat is harsher than dealing with cold.  For this reason he used durable materials. Roofs were made of 3½-inch inch tongue-and-groove cedar, “nature’s best insulation”. He also avoided paint, plaster and used frozen gravel as a substitute for large areas of grass which involved maintenance, considerable expense and labor. (source)

In addition to the 13 birdcage houses, some of Glenn Q. Johnson’s other designs include the St. Pete Beach Library, the North Shore Aquatic Center and the Pinellas County Judicial Building.


Glenn Q. Johnson was the son of Swedish immigrants, born in Chicago in 1909.  He started his career in Chicago after graduating from Crane College, Armour Institute of Technology and Atelier Nelson, where he received beaux arts training.  During the Second World War, Johnson was the director of a division of Douglas Aircraft, a major supplier of war materiel. In 1952, he came to St. Petersburg and joined George Ely as a land developer, and it is with Ely that Johnson developed his locally-famous “Bird Cage” homes along Pinellas Point Drive and 69th Avenue South.

He responsible for many of St. Petersburg’s modern masterpieces including the Pinellas County Judicial Center (one of the city’s only examples of the Brutalist architectural style), the St. Pete Beach Library, the Snell Isle Shopping Center, North Shore Pool and the Sebring Building. He also designed about a dozen schools, including Gibbs High and Azalea Middle School in St. Petersburg, Oak Grove Middle School in Clearwater and Oakhurst Elementary in Largo.

He passed away January 19, 1999 at the age of 90. (source)


Tampa Bay Times, 2003